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J Appl Microbiol. 2005;99(3):598-608.

Enumeration and speciation of enterococci found in marine and intertidal sediments and coastal water in southern California.

Author information

1
Orange County Public Health Laboratory, 700 Shellmaker Road, Newport Beach, CA 92660, USA. dferguson@ochca.com

Abstract

AIMS:

To determine the levels and species distribution of enterococci in intertidal and marine sediments and coastal waters at two beaches frequently in violation of bacterial water standards.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Faecal indicator bacteria were extracted from sediment and enumerated using membrane filtration. High levels of enterococci were detected in intertidal sediments in a seasonal river and near a storm drain outlet. Low levels were found in marine sediments at 10 m depths and in surf zone sand. Bacterial isolates presumptively identified as Enterococcus on mEI media were speciated. The predominant species found in both water and sediment included Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus hirae, Enterococcus casseliflavus and Enterococcus mundtii. A number of isolates (11-26%) from regulatory water samples presumptively identified as enterococci on mEI media were subsequently identified as species other than Enterococcus. At both study sites, the distribution of species present in water was comparable with those in sediments and the distribution of species was similar in water samples passing and exceeding bacterial indicator standards.

CONCLUSIONS:

High levels of Enterococcus in intertidal sediments indicate retention and possible regrowth in this environment.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

Resuspension of enterococci that are persistent in sediments may cause beach water quality failures and calls into question the specificity of this indicator for determining recent faecal contamination.

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